Now that your grandma and your nephew are all on Facebook,

the billion person social network has refined its user experience yet again. Facebook pages, sometimes known as fan pages, are no longer going to show up in user’s news feed, organically, without paid “boosting” or advertising. This is a win for sensibility, as we will no longer be annoyed and even tricked into liking the Facebook pages of large but less reputable brands.

However, it’s a major loss for non-profits and community organizations. Facebook pages are an excellent medium for sharing information, collecting media, and connecting people. With more than half of America on Facebook, and the fast growth of younger as well as older users, it’s a no-brainer for any collective to be on the Facebook.

With the switch in Facebook policy, it’s time to rethink your game plan when it comes to the big F B. This doesn’t mean get rid of your page. It will still be a helpful tool for all the previous reasons. If you have a general advertising budget, marketing on Facebook through a page to your followers and their friends will remain a powerful tool.

But the name of the game is Social Networking, so below I have outlined 3 strategies for any organization moving beyond the Facebook Page. You may already be using them in some capacity.

Engage your network

The first thing to do is to have a circle of social networking leaders. The kind of people who always show up and are always online. Empower them, mobilize them, and have them intentionally and thoughtfully extend your organic reach through resharing.

Furthermore, mass servicing of the niche communities will benefit your larger network. Many communities are seeing benefit in having micro-social groups, within their larger audience, targeted at specific segments of their communities: children, college students, parents, 50+ singles, you name it. Since everyone contributes value by default, and the organizations are lowering the barrier to participation by making a space which invites and engages a real community to share, connect, and lead.

Switch to a group

If you’re in Israel, you’re probably using Facebook groups for everything. Getting a job, finding a wedding dress, staying in the know of underground concerts. Facebook groups allow people to share and connect in a focused activity stream for that purpose.

Groups feature shared events, photos, and files. Users can upload media through the status update bar inside of the group. In addition to typical status posts, users in a group can even post a question to the group.

Unlike a Facebook page where users are fans or followers, users in a Facebook group are members. As a result, Facebook groups generate content that is focused and inherently meaningful to the individuals and group as a whole. Recently Facebook added the ability to search for content inside of posts, further strengthening the use of groups for social collaboration and knowledge management.

Make your own platform

Whether or not you consider it in 2015, at some point your organization is going to need it’s own social relationship and knowledge management platform. Social media and networking aren’t going away. Conversely they are becoming much more ingrained in our workflows and our relationships.

To thrive in the 21st century, social service organizations must empower their communities through open social platforms. A combination social network/storage cloud, where people can establish their social identity, distinguish leaders from participants, and communicate with one another.

BuddyPress, an increasingly popular WordPress plugin, can turn a WordPress install into a social network. Additional plugins can be added for privacy, for event management, for users to share or import content from their other social networks, for file and media management….. The list goes on. There are numerous other platforms and white label developers who can also create a social network. BuddyPress happens to be my favorite. 😉

In conclusion,

as a company supplying a “free” product to more than a billion people, Facebook will never stop adjusting the way pages appear to the average user. However, for the foreseeable future, your organization needs to nuance your Facebook strategy. Whether you engage your network, migrate to groups, or embark on your own platform, just remember the golden rule of the social age: Only Real People can create Real Relationships.